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Tragedy or Hope

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Tragedy or Hope

Published 1972
Topics Cold War

Educating 1960s campus protesters as to "what's right with America."

Run time 24:03
Producer Fairbanks (Jerry) Productions
Sponsor Harding College
Audio/Visual Sd, C


The film is structured as a narrative in which John Smith's ancestors educate him about "what's right with America" in hopes of leading him away from "the road to anarchy and self-destruction." There are many bits of archival footage in this film. It begins with a brief discussion of (accompanied by a montage) those "radical speakers who are subsidized by communists" (Allen Ginsberg, Abbie Hoffman, and others are pictured). We move from these scenes of "mass hysteria" to extnded montages which depict all the womders of American capitalist society (lots of good stock shots here:
lipsticks being made
fields being farmed
barbershop quartets
footage from Ford Motor Company (accompanied by a brief discussion of Henry Ford as a citizen with "strong" values. The film ends as John Smith and his ancestors decide to face the protestors and educate them on "what's right with America." The final title card reads: "Will you let this time of our lives be Tragedy or Hope?".



Reviewer: Dokes - favoritefavoritefavorite - January 2, 2011
Subject: Classic 1970's Propagana
You have to keep perspective when you watch this ephemera propaganda film. It was during a time when there was a lot of activism, i.e anti Vietnam war, civil rights, womens' rights, etc. During that time there was an exaggerated fear among established society that somehow such movements would corrupt young America and destroy the fabric of the nation and, that it was somehow linked to communism. To a moderate degree this film also perpetrates the notion that somehow free speech is... un-American.

In retrospect we now see the absurdity of the exaggerated fears expressed in this propaganda film and others like it. This does add a touch of comic element to the film. Watch it bearing in mind the time it was made and the mindset of the period.
Reviewer: doowopbob - - August 13, 2010
Subject: ..Double Digit I.Qs..
..The Government Controls Your Every Move..Takes Your Money..And Don't Give A Jack About You Lemmings..!..Amerika Is Weak..Muslims Will Soon Be Your Masters..!
Reviewer: moshimoshi3000 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 11, 2009
Subject: Protest = Bad
Protesting and disagreeing with authority are always bad and had nothing to do with the founding of this country. Civil disobedience is also bad, and nothing good has ever come of it. Do these people thing that Martin Luther King was funded by the commies too? Be happy with what you have, never ask for anything more.
Reviewer: ubihubi - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 28, 2007
Subject: Watch "Brink of disaster, pt 1"'
Watch "Brink of disaster, pt 1 ", Which should be the proper beginning, with either " Brink of disaster, pt 2" or "Tragedy or Hope" as the ending.

It really shows you that'U.S. drag' that Burroughs wrote about.
Reviewer: Max Grody - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 15, 2006
Subject: Preachy but good...
This is just as appropriate today, except the creepy self-loathing sorts in America today can barely get more then 50 people to go to any protests. Thank god.

Though it is a strange idea, with revolutionary American clubbing down the dumb kid, it makes sense. Nothing wrong with America except the lazy abdicate their participation in government. Most who criticize America slough their responsibilities and cry because the world doesn't dance to their childish, narcissistic whims. Instead they wish to enslave everyone to work half heartedly for communist ideas, or socialism (communism-lite).

In the 60's people really purchased sophistry wholesale, and it still screws up this country. If this was tighter, with a slightly better direction, it should still be shown today.... if we have to indoctrinate our kids, why not use positive messages?
Reviewer: marzneedzwomen - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 9, 2005
Subject: Tragedy or Hope
I believe the actor playing the professor is longtime Roger Corman regular Ed Nelson. sure looks like him.
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavorite - August 6, 2005
Subject: Rabble Rabble
More fun from later Jerry Fairbanks. This is QUITE similar to the short 'Brink Of Disaster', with exactly the same premise, kid breaks into a library to wait for his demostrator friends to come in and wreck the place. All of a sudden, his history professor and one of his ancestor arrive to beat him down about Why America Is So Great. Why, they've created some of the most wonderful things in the world! They produce most of the goods! Not like those Communist Viet Nam protestors outside! It's funny how once you start protesting about something, they instantly label you negatively. America will not stand for it! Let's meet theose protesters and talk them to death! YEAH!
Reviewer: samontreal - favoritefavorite - June 23, 2005
Subject: Outrageous!
Classic depiction of how America invented EVERYTHING and is the sole reason why the whole world isn't scuttling about wearing masks in the jungle. You guys even take credit for the lightbulb and telephone, which were CANADIAN inventions! Look it up! And every medicine? Insulin was first manufactured in Canada, discovered in Montreal. No disrespect to America, but the protagonists "You can't criticize America at all son, after all, you have a vacuum cleaner and washing machine!"
Well that settles that argument, doesn't it?
This movie was pretty boring actually, especially considering the otherwise fascinating subject matter.
Reviewer: uniQ - favoritefavoritefavorite - June 23, 2005
Subject: See also...
(Average rating, this post is for info purposes)

The characters and plot of this film are near exact reprisals of "Brink of Disaster!!" located on this site as well.

Reviewer: quartknee - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 23, 2005
Subject: Tragedy or hope - the world in black and white
"One of us is a traitor...." that's such tired propaganda language, which only works when people are wrought utterly irrational by fear, in this case, of communism, which used the same tactics we did in promoting itself and denigrating the other side. "Telling our young people what's wrong with America." That would be a tragedy, if people were told they were being fucked over and given a silly propaganda campaign to tell them not to understand anything. Mass hysteria. This is so hypocritical, I can hardly contain myself. "They want to be different."
Reviewer: Steve Nordby - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 26, 2003
Subject: "The road to anarchy and self destruction"
Young John Smith is knocked unconscious in the college library by his long dead ancestor while an innocent professor watches. You see, the old man has risen from the dead to save America from the wrong people. All that bad stuff these kids today are doing is part of a diabolical communist plot! They want to destroy America! They hate freedom!

The other films from Harding College are lectures about the perfection of capitalism, here we have their attempt at drama and guess what? It's a freaking lecture on how great capitalism is and how everything wrong in America is due to evil communist conspiracy!

Of course, it's all very convincing, so by the end of the film, they's all goin' out to kill 'em some commies!
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